This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt,
Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt,
Of purpose to deceive us ;
And leading us, makes us to stray
Long winter's nights out of the way,
And when we stick in mire and clay,
He doth with laughter leave us.
"Dear Puck," quoth he, "my wife is gone;
As e'er thou lovest king Oberon,
Let everything but this alone,
With vengeance and pursue her :
Bring her to me, alive or dead;
Or that vile thief Pigwiggen's head;
That villain hath defiled my bed,
He to this folly drew her."
Quoth Puck," My liege, I'll never lin, But I will thorough thick and thin, Until at length I bring her in,
My dearest lord, ne'er doubt it." Thorough brake, thorough brier, Thorough muck, thorough mire, Thorough water, thorough fire,
And thus goes Puck about it.
This thing Nymphidia overheard,
That on this mad king had a guard,
Not doubting of a great reward,
For first this bus'ness broaching:
And through the air away doth go
Swift as an arrow from the bow,
To let her sovereign Mab to know
What peril was approaching.
The queen, bound with love's powerful charm,
Sate with Pigwiggen arm in arm;
Her merry maids, that thought no harm,
About the room were skipping:
A bumble-bee, their minstrel, play'd
Upon his hautbois, every maid
Fit for this revel was array'd,
The hornpipe neatly tripping.
In comes Nymphidia, and doth cry,
'My sovereign, for your safety fly,
For there is danger but too nigh,
I posted to forewarn you.
The king hath sent Hobgoblin out,
To seek you all the fields about,
And of your safety you may doubt,
If he but once discern you."
When like an uproar in a town,
Before them everything went down ;
Some tore a ruff, and some a gown,
'Gainst one another justling :
They flew about like chaff i' th' wind;
For haste some left their masks behind,
Some could not stay their gloves to find;
There never was such bustling.
Forth ran they by a secret way,
Into a brake that near them lay,
Yet much they doubted there to stay,
Lest Hob should hap to find them:
He had a sharp and piercing sight,
All one to him the day and night,
And therefore were resolved by flight
To leave this place behind them.
At length one chanced to find a nut,
In th' end of which a hole was cut,
Which lay upon a hazel root,
There scatter'd by a squirrel,
Which out the kernel gotten had :
When quoth this fay, "Dear queen, be glad,
Let Oberon be ne'er so mad,
I'll set you safe from peril.
Come all into this nut (quoth she), Come closely in, be ruled by me, Each one may here a chooser be,
For room ye need not wrestle, Nor need ye be together heapt.' So one by one therein they crept, And lying down, they soundly slept, And safe as in a castle.